Fitness basics

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Starting a fitness program may be one of the best things you can do for your health. After all, physical activity can reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight, and even boost your self-esteem. And you can reap these benefits regardless of your age, sex or physical ability.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines

  • Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or an equal combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. To provide even greater health benefit and to assist with weight loss or maintaining weight loss, at least 300 minutes a week is recommended. But even small amounts of physical activity are helpful. Being active for short periods of time throughout the day can add up to provide health benefits.
  • Strength training. Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Aim to do a single set of each exercise using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.

Regular exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But if you haven't exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.

When you're designing your personal fitness program, consider your fitness goals. Think about your fitness likes and dislikes, and note your personal barriers to fitness. Then consider practical strategies for keeping your fitness program on track.

Starting a fitness program is an important decision, but it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can make fitness a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

April 08, 2022

See also

  1. 10,000 steps
  2. Slide show: 5 smart exercise choices for psoriatic arthritis
  3. 5K training schedule
  4. Accentuate the positive to make lasting health changes
  5. Exercise warm-up
  6. Aerobic exercise
  7. Blood Doping
  8. Body-weight training
  9. Boot camp workout
  10. Why is BVO in my drink?
  11. Can I exercise if I have atopic dermatitis?
  12. Core exercises
  13. Eating and exercise
  14. Exercise benefits
  15. Exercise and chronic disease
  16. Exercise and illness
  17. Stress relief
  18. Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour
  19. Exercising with arthritis
  20. Exercise: How much do I need?
  21. Exercise intensity
  22. Exercise: Check with your doctor
  23. Fitness program
  24. Fitness motivation
  25. Fitness ball exercises videos
  26. Fitness program
  27. Fitness training routine
  28. Fuel your body for everyday performance
  29. Walking schedule
  30. Getting in shape after having a baby
  31. Hate to exercise? Try these tips
  32. Heart rate
  33. Hockey Flywheel
  34. How fit are you?
  35. Interval Training
  36. Isometric exercise
  37. Kids and exercise
  38. Marathon and the Heat
  39. BMI and waist circumference calculator
  40. Mayo Clinic Minute: How to hit your target heart rate
  41. Vary your cardiovascular workouts
  42. Nutrition rules that will fuel your workout
  43. Exercise and opioids
  44. Overuse injury prevention
  45. Performance-enhancing drugs: Know the risks
  46. Pregnancy and exercise
  47. Weight training exercises
  48. Core-strength exercises
  49. Office stretches
  50. Guide to stretches
  51. Aquatic exercises
  52. Balance exercises
  53. Fitness ball
  54. Golf stretches
  55. Strength training basics
  56. Strength training: How-to video collection
  57. Strength training for kids
  58. Stretching
  59. Abdominal ball raise with fitness ball
  60. Fitness ball bridge with heel dig
  61. How to choose a fitness ball
  62. Reverse crunch with fitness ball
  63. Side exercise with fitness ball
  64. Abdominal crunch
  65. Abdominal crunch with fitness ball
  66. Bent-over row with dumbbell
  67. Bent-over row with resistance tubing
  68. Biceps curl with barbell
  69. Biceps curl with dumbbell
  70. Biceps curl with resistance tubing
  71. Biceps curl with weight machine
  72. Bridge with fitness ball
  73. Calf raise with dumbbell
  74. Chest press with dumbbell
  75. Chest press with weight machine
  76. Hamstring curl with resistance tubing
  77. Hip abduction walk with resistance tubing
  78. How to choose resistance tubing
  79. Knee extension with weight machine
  80. Lat pull-down with weight machine
  81. Lunge exercise
  82. Lying hamstring curl with weight machine
  83. Modified pushup
  84. Plank with fitness ball
  85. Reverse fly with dumbbell
  86. Seated hamstring curl with weight machine
  87. Seated leg press with weight machine
  88. Seated row with resistance tubing
  89. Seated row with weight machine
  90. Squat and reach with fitness ball
  91. Squat exercise
  92. Squat with dumbbell
  93. Squat with resistance tubing
  94. Standing hip abduction with resistance tubing
  95. Step-up exercise
  96. Triceps extension with dumbbell
  97. Triceps extension with weight machine
  98. Triceps kickback with resistance tubing
  99. Walking and trackers
  100. Walking for fitness
  101. Daily water requirement
  102. Weight training: Do's and don'ts of proper technique
  103. Whole-body vibration
  104. Cold-weather exercise